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Breed Rescue

Julie Morris, ASPCA, VP National Shelter Outreach

Purebred dogs often need rescuing, too. Fortunately, hundreds of purebred rescue groups serve just that purpose.

Purebred dog rescue organizations grew out of the concern of “fanciers” of various breeds to find homes for unwanted, abandoned, stray, mistreated or neglected dogs of those breeds. Rescue groups are made up of dedicated volunteers who house, care for and carefully place purebreds in new, hopefully permanent, homes. For prospective dog owners who are interested in a particular breed, rescue groups provide an alternative to breeders, animal shelters or pet shops. An important plus is that these rescue organizations do not contribute to the companion overpopulation problem.

Breed Rescue


Rescue groups work hand in hand with and complement the work of animal shelters. Many shelters maintain a list of breed groups in their area, and when a purebred is received (shelters report that between 20 percent and 30 percent of dogs received are purebreds), call for assistance with placement. As purebred rescue groups remove “their” breed from a shelter, they free up a run and buy time for another dog. Additionally, many rescue groups take dogs who might be considered unadoptable by some shelters, such as dogs who are older or have special needs.

TLC unlimited
Purebred rescue groups have several distinct advantages over animal shelters. As breed specialists, they know what to expect in terms of personality and temperament and even what medical problems dogs of that breed might be prone to suffer. This knowledge helps them to make successful placements. Rescue groups also have the advantage of time and almost unlimited TLC. Most of them rely heavily on foster homes to care for dogs until they are adopted. Foster families generally can provide a loving home environment and can keep dogs for extended periods of time — two things that most shelters just can’t do.

In contrast to what most shelters can afford, rescue groups often spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars caring for individual animals. In addition to the general veterinary care and spay/neuter operation that a shelter would provide, rescue groups often work with private veterinarians to treat special medical needs or injuries. This isn’t to say that rescue groups have lots of money — they don’t! In fact, the most valuable commodities to rescue groups are similar to those of shelters: volunteers and funds. (For some creative fundraising, see Way to Waddle below.)

Check it out
If you think you’re ready to adopt a golden retreiver, basset hound or other purebred dog — what next? Linda Reider, President of the Michigan Purebred Dog Rescue Alliance (MPDRA), a non-profit educational organization dedicated to facilitating and promoting purebred rescue, advises that you back up one step and do some research. “Potential purebred adopters should first investigate different breeds from such sources as the library, web sites and dog shows. Only after narrowing the field to a handful of compatible breeds is it time to find a rescue group.”

There are several ways to find a breed rescue group. The American Kennel Club (AKC) publishes a list of national breed club rescue coordinators in the November issue of the AKC Gazette, as well as on its web site at Or, call AKC Customer Service at (919) 233-9767. The national rescue coordinator can put you in touch with a rescue group in your area. Alternatively, Project BREED (Breed Rescue Efforts and Education), a non-profit coalition of volunteers dedicated to purebred rescue nationwide, publishes a directory listing hundreds of breed groups and the services they offer. For ordering information, send a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Project BREED, P.O. Box 15888, Chevy Chase, MD 20825.

Once you locate a rescue group, don’t expect to waltz in and buy a dog. “Rescue groups are not selling dogs,” Reider emphasizes. “They have a vested interest in placing the dogs in permanent homes. In fact, most rescue groups talk more people out of their breed than into giving one a home.”

Expect a rescue group to ask you questions about your lifestyle and to require that dogs be spayed or neutered prior to adoption (stay away from those that don’t). Many also require a home visit and/or a fenced area for the dog. Finally, expect to pay a fee — purebred rescue is an expensive proposition. In part, the fee will help reimburse the organization for vaccinations, heartworm testing, teeth cleaning, grooming and other medical care that the dog has received.


A golden shelter

In a quiet suburb of Boston, there is a most unusual shelter. The Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue (YGRR), a non-profit charitable organization founded in 1985, is the nation’s first shelter and education center dedicated solely to golden retrievers.

YGRR relied for years on boarding kennels and a network of foster homes to house its dogs; then, in 1997, it was able to open its own shelter, where approximately 10 to 20 lucky goldens luxuriate in their kennels and exercise yards while awaiting new homes. The dogs are fed, walked and groomed by an active crew of volunteers. For goldens needing rehabilitation, there is a swimmng pool for aquatic therapy.

YGRR rescues and places dogs in the six New England states. It accepts young, old, healthy and special-needs goldens. Some require extensive medical care — even as elaborate as hip surgery. Adopting a golden from YGRR requires a home visit and a fenced area (a requirement waived for some seniors). All adoptees are spayed/neutered and tattooed before placement.

To adopt a golden, or if you know of one in need, or for more information, call YGRR’s voice mail hotline at (978) 568-9700, or visit its web site at

Way to waddle

Close your eyes, and try to picture 50 basset hounds waddling down the street. Now, close your eyes again, and imagine 1,000 basset hounds waddling down the street. As crazy as that sounds, two months in advance of the annual “Celebrate Birmingham” parade, Michigan Basset Rescue (MBR), a non-profit charitable organization, was expecting more than 1,000 basset hounds from 35 states and three Canadian provinces to participate. The parade is held each May in Birmingham, MI.

In 1997, 611 basset hounds participated and raised a total of $30,000. The goal for this year’s Waddle, as the event is known, is $50,000 or more. All funds go to MBR to assist in its efforts to find new homes for unwanted basset hounds in the region. Since its founding in 1992, MBR has placed more than 750 bassets. Its goal: to open its own shelter serving basset hounds in need.

To support MBR start a Waddle in your area, contact Melissa Fenchel at (248) 623-1698 or by e-mail at

© 1998 ASPCA

Animal Watch – Summer 1998

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